Leslie John Holder, Radio Operator on duty who received the SOS from the ATHENIA after being torpedoed
Hi our Father left to the family his RN Service Record and various objects with regard to the sinking of the ATHENIA. His note mentions that he was the Radio Operator on duty and received the SOS from the ATHENIA after being torpedoed. A cigarette case with the inscription...PRESENTED BY DONALDSON ATLANTIC LINES LTD OWNERS T.S.S. "ATHENIA" SUNK BY GERMAN SUBMARINE 3RD SEPTEMBER 1939...is in our possession. Above the inscription is a Masthead flying a pennant with a flag below. The pennant carries a Thistle with a branch on both sides. The flag has three vertical panels; both the left and right are cross hatched and the centre panel shows a capital D.
We are not sure of any other presentations, perhaps someone else can offer advice.
Best wishes Stewart Henderson Holder (2nd son)
My thanks for your mail and its description of the cigarette case given to your Father after the Athenia sinking. perhaps it is unique as your Father was directly involved via his Radio operator role.
Although the Donaldson Atlantic Lines Ltd owned the ship it was on charter to the CunardLine at the time of the disaster.
From your E-Mail heading I assume your Father was serving in the destroyer HMS Electra.
Would it please be possible to photograph the cigarette case, and either scan a copy to me or send one to Australia by post?
I would love to be able to have my web master for AHOY add it to our records about Athenia, and those who were rescued or died that fateful night.
You make mention of various objects regarding the sinking, is there anything else you would care to share with me please?
Here is a description of the Donaldson Atlantic Lines Ltd House Flag:
1. Donaldson Atlantic Line (Glasgow-New York): House flag: White Pennant, with Red and Green Thistle, over Red, White and Blue vertical tricolor, Blue D in center.
I could not find an illustration of the White Pennant with the Thistle ensignia.
Electra's CO was Lieutenant Commander Sammy A. Buss.
Glad you received the 4 pics...the Google Picassa s/w will enable you to view the papers by 1.click on picture to get enlargement 2.access drop down menus to use a:Basic fixes b:Tuning c:Effects.
If you would like me to do this an re-send just ask please.
The reason why I ask is that our Father has written up a 5 page description of the events (in time order) of the rescue operation.
I am now near the end of this phase...a bit rushed but thought it important to get it to you.
As a family we are thinking of depositing the artifacts with the The Liverpool Maritime Museum since our Father was born in Liverpool; the ATHENIA sailed from Liverpool and we were all brought up in Liverpool. Would you agree that this is a fitting display point for others to view ?
I too make use of Picassa a great programme, there is no need to resend the 4 pics thanks.
I look forward to your Father's recall of that fateful night on September 3rd. 1939.
In 1940/1941 I came to regard Liverpool as a second home ( our sailors tended to call it Liverblitz after being bombed in Brocklebank dock in December 1940 ) and I went back for the 50th. anniversary of winning the Battle of the Atlantic in 1993.
Here is my piece from AHOY: "German Bombers rain bombs down on Liverpool. A close run thing for HMAS Australia, December 1940"
Liverpool would indeed be a very appropriate location for your Dad's records, but you may not be aware that in my understanding, a new Section devoted to the Athenia Tragedy is scheduled to open at the Glasgow Transport Museum in 2009.
The curator is Emily Malcolm at Emily.Malcolm@cls.glasgow.gov.uk I am sure she would love to hear from you, we have been corresponding for some time now.
Why not duplicate your Dad's material, and place a copy both at Liverpool and at Glasgow?
That way it would gain the most exposure to the public.
Let me know what you think Stewart.
I have been away for a few days and popped into your AHOY page this morning. The report from Able Seaman Jack Taylor was 'on the spot reporting of first-rate'. Many thanks to Jack for sharing his vivid information; perhaps he might wish to get in touch with me and possibly Emily Malcolm @ Glasgow Museum ?
We, the Holder family, are very grateful that both you Mac, and your fine and professional Web Master Terry Kearns, for the splendid 'memorial' piece on our Father's contribution to the war effort at that time.
Yours very sincerely,
a small ps...did the 'ATHENIA' cigarette case photo not turn out ?
Both Terry and I are pleased we could help.
I did give the Jack Taylor report to Emily, I picked it up on the net and merely asked Terry to add it to AHOY.
I have not actually been in touch with Jack.
Many thanks - it completes the picture - well done. I shall give careful thought to your very good suggestion of including suitable photo titles.
A lovely photo of your lovely family!
I have come across info on the net that might be worthy of further enquiry...
Time Magazine published an article under the title (section / topic ?) Revival; on Monday, Oct. 30, 1939 which can be found at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,931788,00.html and I originally found it on http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,931788,00.html. Let me know if you need a copy emailing.
Could you please provide Time's www or email address in order that I might ask for an up to date comment ?
If you look at www.clydesite.co.uk/clydebuillt for details of Athenia's sister ship the Letitia you will find details of the Letitia being converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser in 1939 after being requisitioned by the (British) Admiralty. So was the Athenia mistaken for the Letitia ? Again let me know if you need a copy.
There is more ( a possible error of note in the history books), but I hope this gives a new line of enquiry.